Shock and Awe. The story of the failure of the American media

One commentator reproached me: they say, they don’t pull my material into "serious analytics." He is right if he means nuclear security analyst, military coups, and other topics I have been writing about lately. I wore epaulets, I read, and sometimes I write “serious” analytics. And I know that military and political analysts are based on direct knowledge, experience and study of primary sources, and not in watching TV and collecting quotes from various experts, political scientists and other talking heads. They themselves are material for a serious analysis of how public opinion is created and changed, how modern media and social networks work.

It’s hard to come up with a better illustration of the need for media analysts than Joey Hartstone’s upcoming screenplay by Rob Reiner’s “Shock and Awe”. A film about the eve of the US invasion of Iraq. About how all the "respectable" and "mainstream" media succumbed to government fraud. They betrayed the trust of the public, turned into a propaganda tool for the harmful and expensive adventure that launched the catastrophe in the Middle East and destroyed the world order that had developed as a result of the Second World War.

However, all but one succumbed. A small group of journalists and editors from the small Washington news agency Knight Ridder have seen that reality does not coincide with government propaganda. We saw how collective paranoia encompasses respectable media, the flagships of American journalism. Seen, one after another, they betray the principles of the profession and the very essence of journalism. Seen - and did not succumb to general hysteria.

"We are not the New York Times, not the Washington Post, we are not CNN, not Fox News," Says Knight Ridder editor Jonathan Landau, wonderfully played in the Woody Harrelson film.

For me it is very personal story. I know the Middle East not by hearsay, I speak Arabic and I myself wrote articles where I predicted that the Americans would be stuck in Iraq, like Israelis in Palestine. I listened to the warlike speeches of American statesmen on the eve of the war and could not believe that they would go to the invasion. Sometimes I thought that it could not be that everyone is wrong, that everyone does not see what I see. And I remember how hard it was to resist the squall of “analysts” in the most prestigious media, talking battery on TV before the battery, with a smart look asserting about the unipolar world, about the domino effect, about building nations, about the global war on terror and so on a set of neo-conservative slogans that already seemed to me untenable.

I found support not in the then media with their false analytics, but in a great story. Legendary Izzy Stone was born in Philadelphia as Izya Feinstein. He worked as a journalist in prestigious publications, became famous for investigative journalism and books. In 1952, the Anti-American Investigation Commission included his name on the blacklist. All doors closed in front of him. However, it was not possible to break it. From 1953 until his death in 1972, Stone released the independent publication IFStone's Weekly, which became a textbook example of quality journalism. The publication takes the second place in the Index of the best examples of printed journalism in America and 19-place in the list of 100 best works of American journalism of the twentieth century. Stone has trained many young journalists, many of whom have occupied key posts in the American media. Izzy Stone has consistently begun instructing new journalists with the phrase that the government lies, that all governments lie. Full quote:

All governments are lying. However, a catastrophe awaits those countries where the bosses smoke the very Anasha, which is distributed to people.

I remember that on the day of the invasion I was returning home, and on the way there were lonely picketers with homemade plaques against the war. They looked like eccentrics not of this world, and in no way resembled violent anti-war demonstrations of the 1970's - 80's. I remember how acquaintances from various anti-war and human rights groups and humanitarian organizations lined up at the State Department and other departments to receive grants for the notorious Bush Freedom agenda.

“If any news organization wants to be a stenographer for the Bush administration, albeit - says John Walcott in the movie, played by Rob Reiner. - We do not write for people who send other people's children to war. We write for people whose children go to war. ”

I instinctively felt that the mainstream media was producing bullshit. Then they did not talk about fake news and believed in the facts. I frantically searched for alternative sources of information. And could not find. The author of the script “Shock and Awe” Rob Reiner said in a radio interview that he wanted to put the film back in 2003, but did not find a suitable story. He thought of doing something like Stanley Kubrick’s black comedy “Doctor Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Atom Bomb,” until he once saw a Bill Moyers documentary from an interview with four Knight Ridder reporters.

Rayner says:

I had no idea about them. Never heard ... Such unusual heroes who understood everything correctly and did it right, and no one paid attention.

Jonathan Landau now holds an important post at Reuters and disagrees that no one has heard them. Whoever needs it, everyone has heard: both the government and colleagues. All those who needed it knew that the Night Ridder had denied reports of weapons mass destruction at Saddam.

Landau sees the problem not in mass paranoia, but in the so-called “access journalism”. In many ways, reporters and analysts depend on sources in the government. Even in times of massive leaks bordering on official betrayal, a successful journalistic career depends on official sources. This is the price. The government may deprive uncomfortable journalists of access to information. And if they naively thought that the Bush administration was punishing journalists too harshly, the government of the Obama peacekeeper turned out to be much worse in this matter.

Landau and his colleagues were denied access. They lost high-ranking sources and their place in the food chain. They had to look for other sources - at the very bottom. It was then that the truth that the government was lying began to be revealed. Ignoring Knight Ridder only helped them. The Bush administration, so zealous in all other cases, has never denied their information - because this would be the best advertisement for Knight Ridder and the best confirmation of their correctness.

Landau told in an interview:

I learned from the old military journalists, from Joe Galloway, for whom the main principle was to talk with the sergeants, with the soldiers. It was important for us to understand how decisions made in Washington affect their fate, how they have to fight. That is why we were able to understand what is really happening.

The volume of corruption of the former mainstream media was opened to the public in a correspondence between the head of campaign headquarters Clinton and journalists, published by WikiLeaks. It was painful and unpleasant to find how reputable and trustful journalists offered their services, crawled and justified in admitted blunders.

Even more harmful is vanity, the desire to show how you open the doors in the Pentagon’s offices with your foot, appear at private events, how you get an invitation to have a beer with the Secretary of Defense, the head of the CIA or have a dinner with Hillary Clinton herself. This determines your place in the hierarchy ",

- the Washington journalist familiar to me spoke.

The name of the film is taken from the military lexicon. This is the name of the strategy of suppressing the enemy by superior forces. This is how the American strategy of mass bombing of Iraq at the beginning of the war is determined. Other examples include the operation of Russian troops in Chechnya, especially during the operation to capture Grozny. However, here the same strategy was applied to the treatment of the American public, and the second oldest profession or, as people like to say in America, the “fourth power”, designed to protect the right of people to know, has become an instrument of this strategy.

Bombing of Baghdad in the early days of the war

Over the years, many good films about the war in Iraq have come out, but none of them influenced the public consciousness in the same way as the films of the Vietnam War, Apocalypse Now, Deer Hunter and many others. Perhaps it is precisely because society has never been able to recover from the hysterical euphoria of the “global war on terror” that led to the Iraq war and to be involved in wars all over the world. Liberal America was opposed to the war only while the Republicans were in power, and even without the votes of Democrats in Congress, the Bush administration would not be able to unleash a war.

Among the entire stream of high-quality war films (such as The Lord of the Storm, American Sniper) there is not a single one about the disaster of the Levant peoples who lost hundreds of thousands of dead and wounded. And millions more displaced persons uprooted from their homes by the largest ethnic cleansing in the history of the Middle East, which occurred as a result of the American “mission of spreading democracy”.

In war films, the humanization of the “others”, the expansion of the narrative, is very lacking. In “Shock and Trepidation” there is a heroine named Vlatka, the wife of one of the journalists (played by Mila Jovovich). She is the first to tell her husband that the atmosphere reminds her of the explosion of nationalism in her native Yugoslavia. However, two American Arab women, Hanna Allam and Leyla Fadil, who, according to eyewitness accounts, played an important role in realizing what was happening, worked at the Knight Ridder agency. They did not find a worthy place in the film - from the same desire for a simplified narrative that prevails in America.

There are many good films about the harm that America has suffered from its aggressive policy, about the high price that the Americans pay, but no one has yet asked why we spread our notions about life under the threat of guns, missiles, drones and bombs. Perhaps Hollywood is simply not capable of producing such a picture, and this is the business of filmmakers - representatives of peoples who are victims of incessant aggression. Perhaps such films will open their eyes to the fact that the American people are also victims of neoliberal colonization, turning America into a banana republic of multinational corporations.

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  1. +1
    19 July 2018 05: 56
    US media are not infallible ... especially CNN ...
    1. +1
      19 July 2018 06: 50
      Come on .... "infallible" he, huh ... so that onet in hell, hedgehogs triplets, across the wool every second gave birth to diving
      1. 0
        25 July 2018 21: 10
        Quote: Shiva83483
        Come on .... "infallible" he, huh ... so that onet in hell, hedgehogs triplets, across the wool every second gave birth to diving

        The behavior of the American media before the Gulf War is just a special case of a big problem. This article is about this. The real problem is that they pay very well for lies and chauvinism. People so want to be "on top", as well as meet the needs of the public (and chauvinism is a public request)! So the zhurnalyugi are trying. This is happening everywhere, and the Russian media are no different from the American or Chinese. Vivid examples are Kiselev and Solovyov (which you cannot do for a house in Spain and proximity to the top). VO is also full of false analytics and fake news, because there is a request for this.
  2. +4
    19 July 2018 06: 40
    And so is faith in God - at first doubt then atheism.
    And how much they told us about infallibility and about truthfulness and about independence and about a lot more.
    They lied.
    And no one apologized when the lies were revealed. It is a pity that liability for lies is not provided. Neither for politicians, nor for writers, nor for thieves, nor for the church.
    1. +3
      19 July 2018 08: 45
      Quote: Vasily50
      And so is faith in God - at first doubt then atheism.

      And it happens the other way around - initially a young man is brought up in a scientifically-rational world, denies God, and then, through an in-depth study of science, through immersion in the secrets of the Universe, he comes to understand that there is Uncreated and Uncreated Being, to be convinced of the Presence of God in this world ...
      1. +1
        19 July 2018 12: 10
        And why did you get the idea that "uncreated being" and consciousness are inherent only to those who believe in the Almighty, and atheists are translated into a practically "created" category?
      2. +1
        21 July 2018 15: 30
        without any deepened study, FAITH comes. but not everyone, as I understand it
    2. +2
      19 July 2018 09: 08
      Moreover, they are convinced that they can lie forever. But in fact, there is a discredit. Moreover, "authority" is affirmed.
  3. +5
    19 July 2018 07: 06
    collective paranoia covers respectable media
    Today, this paranoia in the Western media is only progressing. Americans in general left the coils after the election of Trump - the principle of "wetting" and morally destroying the unwanted became the slogan of their leading media. Maybe their actions will undermine the civil foundations and the country will begin to boil?
    1. 0
      19 July 2018 07: 34
      It looks like they stepped on their rake ... all the color revolutions started with just such noise in the media ...
      1. 0
        19 July 2018 15: 28
        Quote: Vard
        It looks like they stepped on their rake ... all the color revolutions started with just such noise in the media ...

        The Amersans did not advance anywhere. Ammunition purchased, plastic jackets delivered. FSA ready for a color revolution. A long time ago.
    2. +2
      19 July 2018 21: 58
      Why are you so worried about the Western media? Are you a citizen of the Russian Federation living in the Russian Federation or living in the west? If the second, then what are you doing here? Why does it bother you so much? Any sane person is concerned about the fact that he personally is directly concerned! And from this moment on, you can begin to talk about the media .. Starting in 2014, the media in the Russian Federation generally have a full paragraph .. On central channels, they don’t show anything at all except for political broadcasts! Maybe it's better to see a doctor?
  4. +2
    19 July 2018 08: 23
    Is it wrong with us or in any country? Any news in the media of a political or economic nature lies ...
  5. 0
    19 July 2018 08: 39
    I would like to add a good series at the events in Iraq "generation of killers."
  6. +3
    19 July 2018 09: 06
    All governments are lying. However, a catastrophe awaits those countries where the bosses smoke the very Anasha, which is distributed to people.
    ... Cool said ... And now it seems like all the bosses in the world, Anasha goes with a bang ...
  7. +1
    19 July 2018 12: 36
    IMHO, the key two points:
    * Americans simply DO NOT READ to read about power blunders for example. His. The words, by the way, are not mine, some of the leading US journalists.
    * Again not mine - the habit of BELIEVING is believed in the head. In the Russian Federation, they automatically begin to doubt - again a habit - but, to read between the lines.
    In the United States brought up the perfect substrate, a herd. Three green whistles - everyone yells "to wet the Arabs", three red whistles - everyone yells "to save the whales." By the way, this is extremely dangerous - such a herd is not passionate, now they are raking in their USA and Europe - wild migrants have arrived who are able to think with their own head that it’s better for them, specifically now, and weep in the way the herd is accustomed to obey, for which the president thinks, and their desires push them into the heads of the media.
    Refugees are not refugees, what for specifically Magdeburg burgher refugee from Lebanon? And if you don’t need it, what is he doing here - that’s the whole point of the issue, but the media haven’t raised this topic, and the burgher himself is not able to come up with a thought
  8. 0
    19 July 2018 13: 51
    You need to start with a simple and understandable! The media has long been turned into a weapon, a brainwashing machine! We are still in the "Ordinary Fascism" Romm passed. And before that, in the NK on the role of mass propaganda in the formation of revolutionary self-awareness of the masses, and before that ... And so to the creators of the Bible! Here, even analytics is not required; everything is on the surface anyway! And the media has long been called the second oldest profession after, you know what! Accordingly, who pays, he and the girl are dancing. Naivety, like disease, goes away with time.
  9. 0
    19 July 2018 20: 12
    "about the high price that the Americans pay" - I think they will soon find out about the price that the Russians pay.
  10. +1
    19 July 2018 22: 42
    the American people are also a victim of neoliberal colonization, turning America into a banana republic of multinational corporations.
    Sooner or later, this was about to happen; I am talking about “neoliberal colonization turning America into a banana republic” for corporations; profit, money dictates their actions. For American corporations, the American government is closer, it is easier to “negotiate” with it when sponsoring the elections, and I think all corporations operate in the same way around the world, the scale may be different but the methods, the desire to increase capital by any possible and impossible ways are the same. The global financial system itself has inflation, that is, the depreciation of money, which dictates their constant increase by any means; stopping is the death of the financier. Everything you wrote about comes from here. What is Michael to do?
  11. +3
    20 July 2018 12: 46
    This article is too good to pull on "serious analytics."
    "Analytics" is engaged in the search for a certain vector and the determination of its parameters from a certain set of indirect data. It turns out in every way, more often than not. But in general, “serious analysts” are not very worried. Often, the feed is valued, not the result.
    The value of this article is far beyond the scope of that “serious analytics”. It is very difficult to discard all husks and show things as they really are. I think that the author succeeded. Thank you very much for that.

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